Let new adventures begin…

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We did not put up the Christmas tree this year.

Peter and I asked Olivia if she wanted the tree up and after a moment of quiet hesitation, she said “Nah.”

I recall she repeated it again. “Nah”.  The second time with more conviction.  I don’t blame her.  I know she’s too busy with school and extra-curricular activities that it would be too much work to help me put up the tree and at the end of the season, to take it down and pack away for next year.  I must admit, it is a lot of work for just a few weeks of celebration.

No matter that Peter and I always put up a tree, even before Olivia was born.  We didn’t put a lot of presents under the tree but we just liked the fact that it made the house smell nice and the Christmas lights gave the living room a festive air.

With Olivia, the number of presents under the tree grew and when I look back, we probably went a little overboard  (okay, maybe a lot overboard!) and spoiled her.  Anyway, I do have old family videos capturing moments of the precious looks of surprise of a two-year-old Olivia staring at a box that was bigger than herself.

Anyway, I think that this is the beginning of big changes ahead, of new adventures as she grows older.  Olivia doesn’t really want any presents and she is going to be busy studying for exams coming up in January.  It’s going to be a quiet Christmas holiday.

But, do not despair for me…! In the meantime, we have been celebrating Christmas in other ways…

We visited Leia (Olivia’s cousin) and her fellow baker, Grace, in their Christmas bake sale.  Kudos to these two emerging businesswomen!

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Leia and Grace at their first ever Christmas bake sale!

We are going to visit the Christmas Market at the Distillery District and check out my dear friend Joya’s Second Door Studio in studio 103 in the Artscape Building.  If you are in Toronto, check it out!  The Christmas Market is on until December 23!  This beautiful piece just SOLD!!!

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Finally, Christmas would not be complete without a glass of wine as I finish this blog…

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On second thought… do you think I should still put up the Christmas tree?  Maybe if Olivia doesn’t want any presents, I can buy something for Peter…. ?

Leave me a comment!

Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone!

Debbie

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A break from Facebook

I took a break from Facebook and just logged back in today.  I didn’t really miss much….

Trump is still president of the United States–even though he insulted a woman journalist for “Not thinking…You never do.”

Kavanaugh is still in line for the US Supreme Court–even though there are allegations of past sexual abuse.

Canada, Mexico, and United States finally agreed to a new trade deal which includes more open borders to US milk from hormone-treated cows.  So, I guess, I will have to be looking at milk labels more closely to make sure it’s Canadian dairy (Canada has banned using milk producing hormones).

All sad and disturbing news all around the world.

Perhaps I should just take a longer break or make the complete break from Facebook and all the negativity…

However, if I had deleted my Facebook account, I would have missed…

…..my beautiful 9-year-old niece Chloe doing backflips like she is going for Olympic gold!

…the roller coaster that my old neighbour Grace had to endure when she found a lost German Shepherd at a dog park and fell in love with him…only to return him to the pet store from which he was stolen from!

…and all the beautiful pictures that my artist friends have posted…Okanagan Trails, Echo Park Hills in California, pictures of mushrooms in New York, pics taken during a Norwegian Road Trip, and the good vibes go on and on….

On second thought, I think I will stay awhile…

And maybe…just maybe, the next time I log back on, Trump will no longer president or Kavanaugh didn’t quite get to the US Supreme Court……

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additions to my bucket list…

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I spent Canada Day with my sister-in-law and over a cold beer and some sour and not-nearly-so-ripe cherries from their cherry tree, I told her that one of my pipe dreams is to rent a villa in Tuscany, complete with a pool and a housekeeper who will come once or twice a week to make me an authentic Italian dinner and who won’t laugh when I practice my Italian.

It made me think that I should add this Tuscan dream to my growing bucket list….

To date, my bucket list looks like this:

1.  Learn to tread water

person-treading-in-water-clipart-13I can swim…well, okay, maybe I should put a caveat on that one.  I can swim for 2 minutes and then I get tired and I stand up.  So, I’d better be able to touch the bottom and stand or else I’m in trouble!

My daughter, Olivia, swims like a fish.  I think it’s because of the fact that I am not a swimmer that I put her in private swimming lessons the minute she turned 2!  She can tread water like it is no big deal.

Well, I think it is a big deal….

So, now that I think of it, perhaps I should take proper swimming lessons and work myself up to treading water…?

2.  Go on a week long silent retreat

Imagine not speaking for a week.

Enough said.

3.  Go to Fiji or Tahiti 6f97f9d2b3a8028c3e1a8f6ed2e2ff13

I’ve always loved to be around water.

Dang.  I really need to get going on those swimming lessons ….

I wonder how many years it would take to say “That’s me in the picture”….?

4.  Learn Tai Chi

Actually, I was so close to signing up for tai chi lessons a few years back….then work got in the way.

If you haven’t heard of Tai Chi, it can be best described as a moving form of yoga and meditation. It is actually quite fascinating, especially for someone like me who tends to rush around…Tai Chi forces you to slow your movements down.

I should start looking at this again….maybe I can strike this off my list sooner rather than later!

5.  Go on a road trip

images  I once asked Olivia if someday she would want to drive across Canada with me and along the way, stop and learn what our wonderful country is all about…from Halifax to Vancouver Island and perhaps see the Northern Lights in the Yukon.

She said NO.  “It costs a lot of gas and is bad for the environment”. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to convince her if we get an electric car…?

Be that as it may, I will keep this on my bucket list…

What is on your bucket list?

Have a good weekend, everyone!

musiciansfriend.com blue yeti microphone

Debbie

 

 

 

Unfinished…

 

I finished drafting my first ever book.  Actually, I started it about 13 years ago when Olivia was first born….and I just finished it today.  It’s a children’s book about colors….

What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment….!

…..which immediately turned into feelings of inadequacy as questions like “what else have I never finished?”

Begs the question….”Am I one of those people who loves starting things and leaving it unfinished?”

Now that I think about it….I have unfinished paintings, unfinished piles of laundry (my husband has resorted to buying new pairs of socks), an unfinished basement, unfinished poems,  even unfinished sections of my garden (that weeds have taken control of!)….

Begs the question…..”Why do I leave certain things unfinished?”

Now that I think about it…I always seem to run out time, run out of energy, run out of money, or worst of all….run out of interest.

I know I am not alone in this.  I hear people all the time saying that the weekend was too short or their vacation ended too soon or that the bathroom is half painted….

Then I hear this little voice in my head that says “Well, you did finish your book!  It only took 13 years but hey! It’s done…! ”

That is true….so what if I don’t finish things…it’s not the end of the world.  I guess I do finish the important stuff….like medication or antibiotics…!

Anyway,  I’m going to go get ice cream…THAT I know I will finish!

Have a good week, everyone!

band instruments at guitarcenter.com

Debbie

It is a sad day…

I shouldn’t have gone to work today. I was off kilter, off balance, off centre…just off.

I went to bed the night before with the voice of my husband echoing in my mind’s eye…

“Deb, if I were American, I would vote for Hillary but I believe Trump will win because we should not underestimate the power of the blue collar….we are not all doctors, lawyers or accountants, or read the New York Times, or have an education past high school.”

I recall that I actually wanted to retort back and say…

“Nope…

…Hillary will win. She is the better candidate.

…History will be made.  Madame President.

….Remember when Justin Trudeau (our Canadian prime minister) said “Because it’s 2015″ when someone asked him why his cabinet has an equal number of men and women?

…It’s 2016 and we have LGBT washrooms, same sex marriage, women’s rights have made great strides;

…there is no room for someone like Trump who will set our American friends south of our borders back 100 years….”

Yet, it seems the American people were not in the same wavelength as I was. Along with the rest of the world, I turned out to be wrong and my husband was proven right…partially.

Trump did win but not because of the blue collar vote but because of the “white” vote. “White-lash” against a changing country, against a black president…63 percent of white men and 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.

Wow…the words “racists, “white supremists”, and “bigots” came to mind when I saw this statistic…

On the way to work, I was in a daze ( I even let in a familiar looking white Honda Fit into my lane –read my previous blog please).

I got on the train and started texting friends and family trying to figure out..WTF?!?

Some snippets of conversation during the ride to work echo the fear and panic (my comments in blue):


Even though I am Canadian, I don’t think we will escape unscathed…

I even fear for my visible minority friends living in the US:


My mindfulness practice was tested today as I went back and forth between disbelief and anger. My mediation session was difficult…chaotic thoughts of how people could have voted for a bully, a con man, a sexual predator, a liar, and the list went on and on and on…WTF?!?

One positive thought did somehow manage to squeeze through all the negativity…

Impermanence.

Don’t despair, my American friends…four years is not forever.

Today may be a sad day but I’m hoping tomorrow and the day after will be better.

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

“I’m sorry I’m late… I didn’t want to come.”

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I sometimes wish that I could say this out loud. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of group meetings at work, family get togethers to meet the new baby, training courses that require participation, going away and retirement parties, and the list goes on and on. I don’t like networking, small talk or talking about the weather….

Sigh.

Honestly, after work or weekends, I would rather go home, read a good book, go for a run alone, contemplate whether my next painting should be mainly red hues or blue, or just stare at grass growing in my garden.

I do not think I am shy or anti-social. I am not shy as I do not have a fear of negative social judgement.   On the contrary.  Since I started my mindfulness journey, I have learned social judgement does not carry as much weight as it used to. Neither am I anti-social.  I do go out (albeit rarely) for after-work drinks and when I do, I prefer to go with one or two colleagues instead of a large group of people.

I actually did not know exactly how to describe this feeling of “withdrawing” until recently when I saw a passionate discussion by Susan Cain on TED Talks about introversion.  Susan Cain, a self proclaimed introvert, argues that modern Westernized culture sometimes misunderstands and undervalues the power of introverts.  Based on research  and interviews, she argues that our schools and workplaces are designed with extroverts in mind.  In fact, to some extent, we have always extolled the extrovert ideal in the workplace and in the process, does a grave disservice to introverts.  Check out her excellent TED Talks on the power of introverts.  It’s actually quite compelling.

As an introvert, I prefer lower stimulation environments and so prefer quiet, less noise, less action. Extroverts, on the other hand, need more stimulation to feel at their best.  Don’t misunderstand. Some of my best friends are extroverts.  I used to think they have superpowers of unlimited energy. They always seem to be in the middle of the discussion, have the most charisma and people immediately gravitate to them.   Sometimes I jokingly call them my  “DIVA” or “High Maintenance” friends….and we share a good chuckle.

As I was reading more and more about being an introvert, I was transported to a memory of attending a party that my brother and his partner were hosting at their new condo.  The party was in full swing when my husband and I arrived and there were a lot of new people to meet, hands to shake, hors d’oeuvres to enjoy.  After a few minutes of networking, I searched for my brother and found him in his study, going through some digital pictures he had just taken with his new SLR.  To this day, I remember spending more time in his study than out where the laughter and loud lively conversations continued until the wee hours of the morning.

Large family get togethers are particularly exhausting, I find.  Funny how I don’t find get togethers with my side of the family as trying.  It’s likely because my side of the family is made up of introverts….my mother once yelled out jokingly “Anyone here?” as she found the house way too quiet (my father, brother and I generally spent numerous lazy afternoons reading…!).

My husband’s side of the family is a different story.  I do believe they are the exact opposite. Family gatherings are loud, lively and almost always revolving around critiquing the food (their family owned a restaurant once and so they know good food!).  I love these gatherings…but only in small doses.

I realize now that being an introvert IS actually OK.  Of course, I can honestly say that I could NOT have said that in the beginning of my accounting career–I had to impress, had to have super human stamina during audits, be the super social, networking freak. Sure, it was exhausting but had to be done, a rite of passage. The person I am today is older AND hopefully a little wiser, more mindful, more comfortable in my own skin. I paid my dues and have really nothing to prove.  Introvert or not, I like who I am today.

So, I do think the next time I get an invitation and I’m wishy-washy about attending but eventually succumbs… I will be be honest…

“I’m sorry I’m late…I did not want to come.”

Debbie

Leaving early….

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My best friend at work resigned today. After months and months of “should I or shouldn’t I?”, she finally said “I’m done here.”  She has lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. While she has not had a flare-up in months, she realized that her health was more important and that she would rather focus on her art full time.   So, good-bye stress and office politics!

I have known her for almost 15 years and I knew that this decision to leave did not come easy.  Lots of sleepless nights and doubts about whether she can finally make the leap to the art world full time.  There were good days and not-so-good days but lately, it may have been more of the not-so-good days.

When I did ask her what finally pushed her to make the decision, it was not that she had shrewdly played the stock market and she was financially secure in her decision to quit, but more of avoiding the stress of quarter-ends (which always made her lupus flare up) and that she was at her happiest when she was making art (encaustic paintings). “Life is too short.  Do something that makes you happy”, she said.

Retire at 45, what a grand concept!

Like a good accountant, she had crunched the numbers and did her risk analysis, quantitatively and qualitatively, leaving no thought unturned between her left brain and right brain.

If I were in her brain, I think this conversation would have happened:

Left brain:   “Am I nuts?  No steady flow of income? What if I live to be a hundred–am I going to have enough money? What about the social interaction–won’t I  be missing that?  I will miss the office and friends–networking will be more difficult”.

Right brain:  “Right on!  Now I can be the best that I can be! If necessary, I can just live off dreams of apple blossoms and rays of sunshine…that would look pretty, yes?”

Left Brain:  “Apple blossoms and daydreams? If it has a dollar sign in front of it, sure!”

Right Brain:  “Art makes me happy….now I can do more…and sell more.”

Left Brain:  “How about day to day expenses?  Medical insurance? Dental care? Trust fund for Sunny?  He is only 11 years old but he may want to go to university? It will be expensive.”

Right brain:   “That is taken care of–took that into consideration when you crunched the numbers, remember?”

Left Brain: “What if….?”

Right brain:  “So ‘what if’…?”

Left Brain:  “I’M SCARED.”

Right brain:   “It will be alright.  If we don’t do this now, we will regret it forever…”

At some point, the left and right would have finally agreed and taken the right course of action:  to be happy.

I must admit, I am a little envious of my best friend having the courage to walk away from a well-paying job and step into a world of uncertainty.  I wish her all the best and knowing her, I am absolutely sure she will do well in her new adventure.

As for those of us left behind, the ripple of her leaving is already being felt in all parts of the team.  She will be sorely missed.  However, most of the topics of conversations around the water cooler were ” Retirement at 45 is possible?! Really?” and  “What makes me happy?  I should really plan for it..and plan well.”

So, the question that you should ask yourself “If I were on my death bed, would I wish that I had spent more time in the office….or more time dreaming about apple blossoms and rays of sunshine?”

Hmmmm….No regrets.

Debbie.